Whisk(e)y Tidbit of the Day

Count me among the legions of people out there who call all American whiskies "whiskey" and all Scottish whiskies "whisky." I've been told by countless "experts" that this was a universal thing. It's not, however. Check out the bottle of Old Forester Bourbon above from our friends at Brown-Foreman. Huh?

I've been dipping into Michael Veach's new book Kentucky Bourbon: An American Heritage and there are all kinds of little fun facts scattered throughout its pages. Page 13, for example:

The traditional distinction is that whiskey is used for spirits from rebellious former British colonies and whisky for spirits from loyal former British colonies. Thus, Scotch and Canadian products are considered whisky, and Irish and American products are considered whiskey. The fact of the matter, however, is that spelling depends on brand. George Dickel uses whisky, while Jack Daniel's uses whiskey. Even within the same company there can be variation. Brown-Foreman uses whisky for Old Forester and whiskey for Early Times.

Soooooo.....if you're like me, telling people that American whiskies use the "e" because they're American, then you're wrong. We're wrong. I'm wrong. Someone is wrong here. Me. While it's true that the majority of brands uses the "e," there's no absolute rule for universal spelling.

I had never noticed that on the Old Forester bottle, but there it is – right before my eyes. So many things I thought I knew for sure, but didn't. In any case, I'm looking forward to finding out what else I don't know. Great book so far.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll